Washington Post Endorses Cloned Meat

The Food and Drug Administration will likely soon approve the sale of meat from cloned cows, pigs and other livestock. In an editorial, the Washington Post notes:

Cloning animals with superior genetics will make animal products better and less expensive. Breeders aim to grow genetic twins of animals with desirable traits -- such as leaner, tastier meat -- in order to breed them and improve herds over generations. The only difference between this technique and traditional animal husbandry is the production of a genetic copy at the outset. As more high-quality breeding stock becomes available, the value of such animals will decrease, lowering production costs. Americans who don't want to eat animal products made this way will undoubtedly have the opportunity to do so through niche producers.

Opposition to the cloning of livestock has proved powerful. The International Dairy Foods Association helped delay FDA action for years out of fear that American dairy goods would become less attractive abroad. According to the Pew poll, a large number of Americans object to animal cloning out of religious concerns, views that anti-cloning groups will no doubt exploit to distract the public from the scientific evidence. But the FDA's job, in this as in other matters, is to fairly assess the science.

The usual neoluddite naysayers oppose cloning animals. As for me, I can hardly wait to try a nicely marbled steak from a clone of prize-winning steer

Disclosure: No one from Big Cloning paid me to blog this item. I own no stocks in any animal cloning companies. Did you know that most apple and grape varieties are clones--even organic ones? 

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  • ||

    I would think that, if anything, the consistent quality control afforded by cloning would lead to more safety for consumers.

  • ||

    I'm waiting for the day that they can grow meat cuts in a vat with no brains involved. Then I'm takin' all my vegan friends out for a fat, juicy porterhouse.

  • ||

    I apologize for the long post, but I believe quoting Douglas Adams would be appropriate at this point.

    A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type withlarge watery eyes, small horns and what might almost havebeen an ingratiating smile on its lips.

    'Good evening', it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?'

    It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters in to a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them.

    Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

    'Something off the shoulder perhaps?' suggested the animal, 'Braised in a white wine sauce?'

    'Er, your shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

    'But naturallymy shoulder, sir,' mooed the animal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.'

    Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal's shoulder appreciatively.

    'Or the rump is very good,' murmured the animal. 'I've been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there's a lot of good meat there.'

    It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.

    'Or a casselore of me perhaps?' it added.

    'You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?' whispered Trillian to Ford.

    'Me?' said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, 'I don't mean anything.'

    'That's absolutely horrible,' exclaimed Arthur, 'the most revolting thing I've ever heard.'

    'What's the problem Earthman?' said Zaphod, now transfering his attention to the animal's enormous rump.

    'I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to,' said Arthur, 'It's heartless.'

    'Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,' said Zaphod.

    'That's not the point,' Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. 'Alright,' he said, 'maybe it is the point. I don't care, I'm not going to think about it now. I'll just ... er ... I think I'll just have a green salad,' he muttered.

    'May I urge you to consider my liver?' asked the animal, 'it must be very rich and tender by now, I've been force-feeding myself for months.'

    'A green salad,' said Arthur emphatically.

    'A green salad?' said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.

    'Are you going to tell me,' said Arthur, 'that I shouldn't have green salad?'

    'Well,' said the animal, 'I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whoile tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.'

    It managed a very slight bow.

    'Glass of water please,' said Arthur.

    'Look,' said Zaphod, 'we want to eat, we don't want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare stakes please, and hurry. We haven't eaten in five hundred and sevebty-six thousand million years.'

    The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. 'A very wise coice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,' it said, 'I'll just nip off and shoot myself.'

    He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. 'Don't worry, sir,' he said, 'I'll be very humane.'

    It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.

  • Timothy||

  • ||

    "I'm waiting for the day that they can grow meat cuts in a vat with no brains involved."

    Eric, Eating Neocons is illegal.

  • ||

    So those grapples are marinated in grape flavor?
    Have you had them?

  • ||

    Most of my pot is cloned, too! Yay for desirable strains!

  • ||

    Ronald you are the undisputed king of disclosure. I know its coming, but I still chuckle every time ;)

  • ||

    hey Ron Bailey, had a steak from Polyface farms? Just a quick step 'cross Afton mtn from C-ville. And he's a Libertarian too, scouts honor.

    http://www.polyfacefarms.com/index.html

  • ||

    Excuse me, but neocons do have a brain.

    If you set one on fire, it screams and begs for mercy. They are also capable of feeding themselves and have voluntary control over their bowels. They can even conjugate verbs.

    So they have a brain that functions at a rudimentary level.

  • ||

    If you set one on fire, it screams and begs for mercy.

    I think that's just the air escaping from their shell. They aren't screaming in the human sense.

  • granny miller||

    My problem with the expected FDA ruling, is that the cloned meat & milk will not be labeled as such. Once again the consumer is screwed by large agri business and special interest groups.
    I supposed that if you're not too picky about what you eat or feed your kids, then cloned meat, or milk from cloned dairy animals, isn't a big deal. Americans historically have had a high gag threshold, and for the most part, don't care where their food comes from.

    For me personally, this is great news. I own a small family farm where we breed beef and lamb the old fashioned way (open the gate and let the bull/ram in with the cows/ewes). I expect to be doing a land office business this time next year selling safe, quality meat to people who are too scared to shop the local supermarket..

  • ||

    Oh yeah, we think this is great now, but just wait for the Cows from Brazil to come home. Who'll be laughing then?

  • ||

    Matt: Yes I have enjoyed tasty Polyface Farm steaks.

  • ||

    granny miller: You are one of the "niche" producers that the Post is talking about. The customer is always right, so you may be "doing a land office business" off of their ignorance and fears, but that's fine with me. What producers are not allowed to do is claim that science says that their conventionally or organically produced meat is safer or more nutritious.

  • Nudge, Nudge||

    No one from Big Cloning paid me to blog this item.

    I think what you mean is that nobody from Big Cloning walked into your office and offered you a sack of money with a dollar sign on it especially to do a blog post on this topic.

    You may have fooled us simple readers with that Disclaimer, but are you really fooled?

  • ||

    "My problem with the expected FDA ruling, is that the cloned meat & milk will not be labeled as such. Once again the consumer is screwed by large agri business and special interest groups."

    If my fellow consumers and I want to have those products labelled, I fully expect the retailers to comply. The beauty of the market is that they know what will happen if they don't.

  • ||

    Davek's right.

  • Sam Franklin||

    Except sometimes when government has started labelling something, then its consumption declines precipitously. Cigarettes is the classic example -- steadily rising in consumption for decades prior to the warning, steadily falling since. There are more recent examples like trans-fats, where the consumer consumption pattern is changing drastically in response to the label.

    What these examples tell me is that consumers don't get all the labelling they find useful, or else new warning labels would not have these effects.

    Every time Reason goes to the mat to fight a labelling requirement, their true sponsorship really shows. 'elp 'elp, I am bein' oppressed. the man is making me put a label on my food, o, the tyranny.

    Disclaimer: That's not real tyrrany, nor even a particularly sympathetic bitch.

  • ||

    A cloned mammal is obviously a completely different thing from a cloned apple or grape and it's totally misleading to suggest that one type of 'cloning' is the same as another type. Although if you could grow a cow from a cutting, that would be pretty cool.

  • ||

    desirable traits -- such as leaner, tastier meat
    Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. The breeding of leaner pork is what has caused it to loose flavor, tenderness and juiciness. This has jack all to do with cloning mind you, just a rant.

    So those grapples are marinated in grape flavor?
    Have you had them?

    High#,
    I have. They are teh suck. Imagine a golden delicious apple with a thin layer of artifical grape flavor on the outside. Not only do the two flavors not mix well, the flavor does not permeate the apple at all. It's like eating an apple after downing some Dimetapp.

  • ||

    Kwix,

    Ewww.

  • creech||

    Can they clone a "green cow" (one that would emit no, or lower, methane)? Then those going off to Granny Miller's farm for some "real cow"
    can be demonized as in favor of global warming.

  • ||

    Sam

    The voluntary label will appear on the product that does not come from a cloned animal. Either way, there is a label in this case that will allow the consumer to decide.

  • ||

    Can someone explain the problem with cloned meat? Why would eating cow A be safe, while eating cow B, with the same genetic code, be unsafe?

    Also, when is someone going to raise the specter of eating cloned designer babies?

  • ||

    "I expect to be doing a land office business this time next year selling safe, quality meat to people who are too scared to shop the local supermarket.."

    And you would never, ever, encourage or subsidize an "information campaign" which would foment irrational fear of "designer" steaks.

    And you certainly wouldn't expect the rest of us- that is, taxpayers and consumers- to pick up the tab...

    Would you?

  • Sam Franklin||

    The voluntary label will appear on the product that does not come from a cloned animal. Either way, there is a label in this case that will allow the consumer to decide.

    You are being naive.

  • ||

    Can someone explain the problem with cloned meat? Why would eating cow A be safe, while eating cow B, with the same genetic code, be unsafe?

    I did a long post about it here a few months ago, spelling out my thoughts. Basically, some of the early clones appeared to age rapidly, but apparently the process has improved since then. In the case of abnormal aging, you can never completely rule out the possibility of trace levels of a substance that, after cumulative exposure, slightly increases your risk of some ailment. Of course, such things are just about impossible to rule out in any way other than the hard way. But as long as the animals develop normally, they should be, well, normal, and as safe as any other animal of the same species.

    And certainly their offspring should be safe to eat.

  • Sam Franklin||

    ,i>such things are just about impossible to rule out in any way other than the hard way.

    If by the "the hard way" you mean safety experiments in a controlled laboratory environment with publically disseminated results (whether the research turns out favorably or not), then I vote for the hard way.

  • ||

    Sam

    Why am I being naive? Why wouldn't a producer who does not use cloned animals jump at the opportunity to put a label on their product that would invariably attract the majority of consumers who, from what I can tell, have serious apprehensions about genetically altered foods?

    It would be like the organic label, which is also voluntary, but a whole shit load more profitable. But of course I could be wrong.

  • ||

    But of course I could be wrong.

    Something tells me that steveintheknow can't be wrong.

  • Sam Franklin||

    Why am I being naive? Why wouldn't a producer who does not use cloned animals jump at the opportunity to put a label on their product that would invariably attract the majority of consumers who, from what I can tell, have serious apprehensions about genetically altered foods?

    You are not naive in thinking that the non-cloning farmer would put the label on. you are naive for thinking that that label would reach the eyeballs of a typical person who would want the meat and pay a reasonable premium for it. You are naive about what happens between the time that label goes on and that meat is actually sold (or thrown out).

  • ||

    Ok I'll take naive, but just as long as Im not wrong. I just can't deal with that :)

  • wingnutx||

    if you could grow a cow from a cutting, that would be pretty cool.

    I tried that with a kitten once. I'm not sure what went wrong.

  • ||

    If the "not cloned" label raises the value of the meat (i.e. there's a group of consumers who care enough to spend more) there's no way in hell the sellers will remove it. If the "not cloned" label doesn't raise the value of the meat (or perhaps even lowers it, if cloned meat gets a reputation for better taste or quality control) then the label probably won't be attached in the first place.

  • ||

    Ok I'll take naive

    No. If you call yourself "steveintheknow," you can be neither naive nor wrong.

  • ||

    As long as there are courageous people who post the truth in obscure political blogs, big business will have to stop disregarding our safety and switch back to non-cloned meat.

  • Sam Franklin||

    It worked for the HFCS, David. Why back in my phase as "Dave W." I would go on and on and on and on about HFCS and why I thought it was connected to diabetes. I was making this big stink and everybody thought I was crazy and then some time passed and they (well, everybody but Mona) let me be Sam Franklin and the HFCS went away, at least in large part. I am not making this up. Every word is true.

    Besides, I am hoping that cloned meats are safe. I just thinking the safety testing will be better and more economically rational under a labelling regime than a non-labelling regime. I just think it will work out that way, more because of what I know about large food supplier behavior and large fod retailer behavior than because of any opinions I have about food consumer behavior.

  • Godfrey||

    Ronald:

    This is way out of my sphere of knowledge and very much within yours, so perhaps you can enlighten me on one point: doesn't genetic variation inure a species to dangerous epidemics?

    If we allow our entire food supply to be genetically based on a plump, tasty cow named Betsy don't we expose that food supply to potential decimation by a disease to which Betsy was uniquely susceptible?

  • Sam franklin||

    If we allow our entire food supply to be genetically based on a plump, tasty cow named Betsy don't we expose that food supply to potential decimation by a disease to which Betsy was uniquely susceptible?

    I would add to this concern, the concern the potential diease that Betsey is susceptible to, whatever it is, could be passed to humans.

    They say that if those Africans hadn't of eaten those monkeys . . .

  • thoreau||

    Godfrey-

    You do raise a good point about reduced genetic diversity. This is probably the factor that will slow and limit the adoption of cloned animals. The only plus is that while the initial impact of a disease will be substantial, once the resistant breeds are identified the recovery will be easier. You can be confident that the entire next generation will be resistant, rather than rolling the dice on the next generation.

  • thoreau||

    EDIT:

    "...rather than rolling on the dice on what fraction of the next generation will be resistant."

  • ||

    thoreau: genetic diversity! I knew it was called something or other.

    From Wikipedia: "...the Irish potato famine can be attributed in part to the fact that there were so few different genetic strains of potatoes in the country."

    So I guess my only question is: will there be any cows left after The North American Cattle Famine?

    My other only question is: can we minimize this danger through deliberate diversification? If so, I wonder if the government will specifically require such measures when they give their coveted stamp of approval. Seems to me like something that should be dealt with from the outset.

  • ||

    But we won't all be eating Betsy. Betsy will be a brand name like Snickers or Cap'n Crunch. Bossie, Clara, Wanda Mae, and Piney Jo will all be slapped across whatever cut or grind you buy, and we'll be raising a whole generation of gene snobs who only eat Bossie-brand cuts, thank you.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    HFCS also made Dave W morbidly obese, so he has a vendetta against everyone involved in making sugary foods.

  • ||

    For me personally, this is great news. I own a small family farm where we breed beef and lamb the old fashioned way (open the gate and let the bull/ram in with the cows/ewes). I expect to be doing a land office business this time next year selling safe, quality meat to people who are too scared to shop the local supermarket..

    Actually, I think it's refreshing when people admit their prime competitive advantage is FUD.

    Mmm, cud FUD.

  • Sam Franklin||

    HFCS also made Dave W morbidly obese, so he has a vendetta against everyone involved in making sugary foods.

    whoa, whoa, whoa. clarification time:

    1. I was against HFCS because I perceive a diabetes connection there. Fortunately my bro with the sweet tooth moved to Europe where cane rules. Some of my other family members weren't so lucky in this regard. Fortunately, I am not diabetic.

    2. I don't think I have ever been morbidly obese. I have been underweight for more of my life than overweight.

    3. These days my weight is back under 200 and I am dropping about a pound a week.

    4. I have needed new clothes for a couple of months. All my pants are comically large.

    5. Having lost considerable weight in 2003 and now again in 2006, I can say with some confidence that the determinative factor for me is carbohydrate intake. I need to limit that and the weight falls off. I stop limiting that and the weight comes back. It is not really an HFCS issue, but rather a bread issue, a rice issue, a noodle issue, etc, etc. Doctor Atkins was basically correct, at least when it comes to old Sammy Franklin's personal metabolism.

  • ||

    It should be noted that the use of HCFS's are the result of agricultural subsidies and tariffs that make the price of ordinary sugar abnormally high. Anyway, back too cloned tenderloin, or whatever.

  • ||

    I think we you are all missing something here. If we are cloning cowes, that means that there will be less cows fucking. I have never seen this happen, but I have always been in favor of cows fucking. I like the idea (probably totally false) that the cow I am eating at least had a chance to clean the pipes once or twice before it served its greater purpose.

    Of course, cows don't clean their pipes, its bulls. As I said, I've never seen the act in person.

  • Sam Franklin||

    It should be noted that the use of HCFS's are the result of agricultural subsidies and tariffs that make the price of ordinary sugar abnormally high. Anyway, back too cloned tenderloin, or whatever.

    Yup. the US would have started cuddling up to Cuba a lot sooner if Coke and Pepsi and ADM lobbied for that. Instead they lobbied for other things until it looked like the jig was up on the HFCS.

    The HFCS was caused by government and private industry working hand in glove, and it is now being (quietly) solved by government and private industry working hand in glove. Some ppl can only see private industry as the villain, and others can only cognize the governments role. Both these types (let's call them "Dan T.'s" and ""baileys" respectively) suffer from selective focus and should work on making their heads think a bit better in this regard.

  • No one||

    Some ppl can only see private industry as the villain, and others can only cognize the governments role. Both these types (let's call them "Dan T.'s" and ""baileys" respectively) suffer from selective focus and should work on making their heads think a bit better in this regard.

    Many folks see both as the problem and are responsibly boycotting companies that don't offer satisfactory products. There aren't many effective ways to deal with the government problem and actually discussing (whining) on the web is probably (sadly) one that might have some success.

  • Sam Franklin||

    Many folks see both as the problem and are responsibly boycotting companies that don't offer satisfactory products.

    Correct: with a good, responsive labelling regime boycotts are practical / feasible / maybe-even-effective.

    Without a good labelling regime they are not.

    this is the real reason that Reasonoids argue against food labelling generally (even though it is an area of the law most ppl strongly support). The little game here is that boycotts are supposed to be kept as a theoretical possibility, rather than a practical one. then when unsafe foods get introduced into the market, it is the consumer's fault, rather than the food supplier's because there was this possibility where the consumers were supposed to stop buying their meat in the supermarket any time a potential problem is on the horizon.

    It is not an intellectually honest position.

  • ||

    I have never seen this happen, but I have always been in favor of cows fucking. I like the idea (probably totally false) that the cow I am eating at least had a chance to clean the pipes once or twice before it served its greater purpose.

    Then don't look up what a "steer" is. ;)

  • ||

    I really do not care what the industry makes as long as labeling is allowed. BGH is a great example where the Feds went along with agribusiness to keep the information from the consumer. I agree that NO BGH may have a negative connotation to some, but it is absolutely accurate and true. I consume Organic when possible, but would like a private label to arise that is true to what organic farming should be. The allowed exceptions while still being able to label the product as organic is crazy. It is terribly wrong when the government takes ownership to a word and redefines it in the best interests of big business. Government should be extremely small and completely fair to all.

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